Prevalence and predictors of Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus seropositive: a cross-sectional analysis of HIV-infected adults initiating ART in Johannesburg, South Africa

By  Dr Mhairi Maskew  Matthew Fox  A Patrick MacPhail,  Denise Whitby,   Matthias Egger,  Carole L Wallis,  |  | 


Background: Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is the most common AIDS-defining tumour in HIV-infected individuals in Africa. Kaposi sarcoma herpes virus (KSHV) infection precedes development of KS. KSHV co-infection may be associated with worse outcomes in HIV disease and elevated KSHV viral load may be an early marker for advanced HIV disease among untreated patients. We examined the prevalence of KSHV among adults initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) and compared immunological, demographic and clinical factors between patients seropositive and seronegative for KSHV. Results: We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from 404 HIV-infected treatment-naïve adults initiating ART at the Themba Lethu Clinic, Johannesburg, South Africa between November 2008 and March 2009. Subjects were screened at ART initiation for antibodies to KSHV lytic K8.1 and latent Orf73 antigens. Seropositivity to KSHV was defined as positive to either lytic KSHV K8.1 or latent KSHV Orf73 antibodies. KSHV viremia was determined by quantitative PCR and CD3, 4 and 8 lymphocyte counts were determined with flow cytometry. Of the 404 participants, 193 (48%) tested positive for KSHV at ART initiation; with 76 (39%) reactive to lytic K8.1, 35 (18%) to latent Orf73 and 82 (42%) to both. One individual presented with clinical KS at ART initiation. The KSHV infected group was similar to those without KSHV in terms of age, race, gender, ethnicity, smoking and alcohol use. KSHV infected individuals presented with slightly higher median CD3 (817 vs. 726 cells/mm3) and CD4 (90 vs. 80 cells/mm3) counts than KSHV negative subjects. We found no associations between KSHV seropositivity and body mass index, tuberculosis status, WHO stage, HIV RNA levels, full blood count or liver function tests at initiation. Those with detectable KSHV viremia (n = 19), however, appeared to present with signs of more advanced HIV disease including anemia and WHO stage 3 or 4 defining conditions compared to those in whom the virus was undetectable. Conclusions: We demonstrate a high prevalence of KSHV among HIV-infected adults initiating ART in a large urban public-sector HIV clinic. KSHV viremia but not KSHV seropositivity may be associated with markers of advanced HIV disease.

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Infectious Agents and Cancer